Finisterre struck me as a welcoming, aspiring hippie commune. Muxia struck me as bleak, lethal, and sacred.
(It’s pronounced “moo-SHEE-uh.”)
I came to the place alone, after the last 32 kilometers of walking. The walk was beautiful and it went by quickly. There was only one place to stop for coffee and I didn’t stop.
On this walk, an hour away from the end of my camino, I fell for the first time. I tripped on a rock and fell on my already swollen knee, and my pack on top of me sent me to the earth hard. I stood up, checking myself, dreading some twist or twang, but took a few shaky steps and knew I was all right.
Most of the walk wound through hamlets and woods, and when I came to the sea, the bright blue sea, the air got noisy. The waves were big and white, and crashing in slow motion. They had no discernible rhythm: it was just one terrifying, back-of-the-throat roar.
The church of the Virgin of the Boat is on the westernmost point: it is here she appeared to the despairing St. James, and a piece of the stone boat she rode on is still there. When the waves are strong, it moves.
The church and the rocks are all one color. Climb a 68 meter hill and you can see the town, and the land you crossed to get here. Stay till sunset, and you will hear a man playing bagpipes and you will see the waves explode all over your view of the sun. Look back at the stone church and you’ll see its face light up with the dying day. Look around you, and you will see familiar faces from your time on this path, which, finally, for real, is over. There are no more endings. This is the third and last.
That night, I sat at a restaurant in a quiet street and ate five fried whole fish and a platter of green peppers and a basket of break and a bottle of wine. For dessert, I ate a plate of cheese and fruit.
I took my time with the massive meal. Everyone passed slowly except the stray cats, who ran. But when I stood up, I realized I had taken well over an hour and the albergue was due to shut in ten minutes, and so I joined the animals and ran too.
The next morning, I got on a bus. Never in my life had it been so long since I sat in a vehicle.